Test your knowledge of map symbols

If you’ve studied or used a paper map before, you will be aware of the Ordnance Survey map symbols which appear on every one. These map symbols, otherwise known as a ‘legend’ or ‘key’, help us to understand what appears on the mapping we use every day at school, at work or when enjoying our free time.

An Ordnance Survey symbol is the mapping language that will guide you through every walk, bike ride, run or geocaching adventure that you go on. Think about how many buildings, landmarks, features, man made or natural, that the landscapes around us plays host to. Every feature appears on the maps you use and our map key helps you to understand what your map is telling you.

Map symbols also liven up your maps. The data is brought to life as image. For example, you can find out where to fish by looking for an image of a fish or find out where the nearest castle can be found by locating our map symbol of a castle. Simple!

The Ordnance Survey map symbols that appear on map can be put into the following categories:

  • Contours – lines showing the height (elevation) and shape of the terrain;
  • Roads – types of roads from motorways to unfenced farm roads;
  • Leisure signs – showing atrractions, viewpoints, places to go, camping and caravan sites, national parklands and trails;
  • Terrain and landscape features – scree, mud, sand, rocky outcrops, cliffs; and
  • Paths – footpaths, bridleways and routes, some are rights of way, some aren’t.

Map symbols and school

All children are taught about maps and navigation at school as part of the National Curriculum. At Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum for Geography in England and Wales and as part of the Framework for Environmental Studies in Scotland, children will be learning how to identify various Ordnance Survey map symbols.

Many children find map symbols great fun and geography is often a favourite subject for children that enjoy the great outdoors. You can help your kids to learn about the map key with our map symbols quiz (printable to quiz yourself or your children). See the link below. Send us your answers on the blog.

Map symbols quiz – test yourself.

Download our free map reading leaflet.

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